Don Adams (1923 - 2005)


Don Adams lost a battle with lung cancer and sadly passed away in L.A. on Sep 25, 2005.

Max once saved my life. Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly. There was a time in the 80s when my spirits were seriously low. Nothing would take away the feeling of hopelessness. The future, the past, children, dogs, music, women, the memory of a cold beer on a hot afternoon. There was just no happy place my mind could travel to. Alone on an interstate train one night, it hit hardest. Every thought I entertained just made things worse.

Then I thought of Agent 86 of Control. A glimmer of hope appeared, a burst of colour on a grey canvas. I immediately tried to hold that thought and block out all others. It  started working! Now, with some desperation I tried to keep focused on good old Max. I managed to step line-by-line through entire episodes, in due course smiling to myself, feeling warm again after a long, long time. This was good. Life wasn't so bad. Señor Yarmy, wherever you are, thank you.

While Don enjoyed a long and varied career he will forever be remembered as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86. No one else could have played the character. With a swagger, cocky smile, and unique voice he lived the part of the endlessly funny secret agent. Max was a  combination of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry's imagination, and Don Adams established comedy routines. Maxwell Smart, secret agent and lady killer, had an unshakeable, unjustified faith in his own abilities (only Larrabee dared challenge his throne).

The simplest of lines, the most innocuous of looks, shamelessly repeated, some of them not even making any sense, could have us smiling broadly and filled with a pleasant feeling of well being. Who did not take pleasure in using lines such as: 'Missed it by that much', 'Sorry about that chief', 'I hope I wasn't out of line with that crack about the ugly brute', 'If only he'd used his genius for niceness instead of evil', 'That's the second biggest tomahawk I've ever seen', 'Ah the old false lips trick. That's  the second time I've fallen for that this week', 'Would you believe two angry boy scouts in a rubber dinghy?', 'Control rules state we must  use the cone of silence', 'I asked you not to tell me that', 'Good thinking Max!'. 

 '...and LOVING IT!'

Don Adams Fact Sheet
  • Born Donald Yarmy in New York City, 1923
  • Joined the Marines in World War II. 
  • Involved in cartography/engineering
  • A regular on The Perry Como Show in early 60s
  • His Powell imitation was legendary
  • Close friend and collaborator of Bill Dana
  • Worked with Bill on character of inept house detective Byron Glick
  • Starred in Get Smart, which ran from 1965 until 1970. 
  • Starred in The Partners; guest appearances on The Love Boat
  • Made three attempts to revive Get Smart between 1980 and 1994
  • Acted in Check it out (right), a funny Canadian sitcom set in a Supermarket
  • Is best known to children of the 1980s as the voice of Inspector Gadget. 
  • Don Adams won 3 Emmys as best actor in a comedy series. 
  • He was a talented poet and painter
  • A devoted history buff, an expert on Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler.
  • Divorced three times, with 5 children

Adams said he was offered a choice - $12,500 a week or a percentage of the show's profits. He chose the percentage, and considered it the best business decision of his life. 


Get Smart Fact Sheet

  • Get Smart won 7 Emmy awards
  • NBC cancelled the show in 1969. CBS took over for the 5th season 
  • Adams' cousin Robert Karvelas played secret agent Larrabee on Get Smart. 
  • 99 never had a name. She explained that "Susan Hilton" was not her name. 
  • Don and his sister Gloria Burton wrote part 2 of the Prince Rupert episode
  • Buck Henry also wrote 'The Graduate' and hosted Saturday Night Live
  • Angelique Pettyjohn who played agent 'Charlie Watkins' appeared with Elvis in Clambake.
  • Barbara Feldon once won on the $64,000 Question. Her subject was Shakespeare.
  • Max's car (an Opel GT, used in later episodes) appeared in the movie Stripes
  • Bill Dana was Max's close friend and collaborator. His brother wrote the Get Smart theme.
  • Max had to pass through 5 doors to get into Control HQ.

    Click here for a chronological list of Get Smart episodes...

Get Smart Movies
  • The Nude Bomb (1980)
  • Get Smart Again (1989)
  • Get Smart (2008, with Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart. Bernie Koppel and Max's red 1965 Sunbeam make cameo appearances). My opinion? Entertaining but in an un-Get-Smartish way. Great casting, though maybe Carell brings too much of the Michael Scott character from 'The Office' to the role. All in all, worth seeing but 'missed it by this much...'.

Receiving an Emmy award


Get Smart Again - The movie


I sure hope I shot the right one of me" (Maxwell Smart, 1967) 

"Ahhhh...the old false hands in the chains trick."--Maxwell Smart 

Max: Give me one good reason why he couldn't be the killer'
Chief: He's been dead for four years.
Max: Chief, I asked you to give me a good reason, not a fantastic one!'

: Max, you realize that you'll be facing
every kind of danger imaginable. 
Max: And... loving it.  

Chief: Max, I don't know what I'm going to do about you. You bungle assignment after assignment. 
Max: I resent that, Chief. 
Chief: Do you deny it? 
Max: No, but I resent it.

Chief: There's no telling where they'll be able to infiltrate next. May be even the Pentagon. 
Max: You're right, Chief. But even if they do get a man into the Pentagon, that's not saying he'll be able to get out. I remember one of our own agents was lost in there for three days. 
Chief: Three days? Max, no agent could be that confused. 
Max: Well, let me see. I went in on a Friday... 

Senator: Mr. Smart, how many arrests did Control make last year? 
Smart: I don't know. 
Senator: Who's the number one man in your organization? 
Smart: I don't know. 
Senator: How many cases were assigned to Control last year? 
Smart: I don't know. 
Senator: What would you do if you were fired, Mr. Smart? 
Smart: They can't fire me. I know too much. 

Max: You can't do that, Chief. Hymie's my friend. 
Chief: Your friend busted into my office, said he was going to kill me, smashed my desk to pieces, and almost strangled me with his bare hands. 
Max: Well, I said he was my friend, not yours. 

Siegfried: This is Kaos. We don't *shush* here! 

CRAW: Go to the Fremont Hotel. When Ling Hao arrives, kill him. Get the shirt and leave this half laundry ticket behind. Now do you have that, Bobo?
BOBO: Yes, master. Just give me that last part again. 
CRAW: Which part? 
BOBO: The part after “It’s very simple.” 
CRAW: Oh, Bobo...

Hoo: Moment prease. 
Max: Moment prease? 
Hoo: Once again worthy CONTROL agent leap at too obvious a conclusion. If victim were non-smoker, there could have been two smokers in the room with him. 
Max: Well, that’s true. 
Hoo: Perhaps two smokers and one non-smoker. 
MaxX: Moment please. 
Hoo: Moment please? 
Max: Perhaps there were two smokers and two non-smokers. 
Hoo: Perhaps there were two smokers and FOUR non-smokers. 
Max: Well, then, what you’re saying, Mr. Hoo, is that there could have been as many as fifty people in the room with the victim when he was killed, provided only two of them were smokers. 
Hoo: Exactly. (puts down ashtray, crosses to other side of the room) 
Max: Boy, it must have been crowded in here. (two policemen walk by and pick up their still-smoking cigarettes) 

HOO: Moment please. Much can be learned from man from what he carries on person. (lifts the sheet) Please to examine pockets, Mr. Smart. 
MAX: (leans over, reappearing each time holding up item) Wallet...handkerchief...comb...keys to my apartment... 
HOO: One moment, Mr. Smart. Victim had keys to your apartment in his pockets? 
MAX: Oh, you wanted me to search his pockets

CRAW: Bobo, you may now press Mr. Smart’s head.
HOO: Moment please. (HOO, standing in the doorway with a gun) 
CRAW: Oh, it is you, Hoo
HOO: We meet again, Mr. Craw. 
CRAW: Craw! Not Craw! Craw! 
MAX: Well, I see you two know each other. 
HOO: Have followed this man’s trail for many years. Have complete file on him, lacking in only one thing. 
MAX: What item is that? 
HOO: ...Complete set of fingerprints. 

Don Hernando: What are you talking about? Are you mad? And how dare you interrupt this important ceremony! Who is this foolish dancer?
Max: Dancer? I'm no dancer, your excellency. Look, I'll prove it to you.
(Max executes a perfect pirouette)
Max: Maybe I am a dancer!

Control Agent: "Chief, they're still jamming us - all I can get is Lawrence Welk music."
Chief: "KAOS knows no mercy."


Don Rickles (Max's army buddy, referring to President Johnson) 
I'll tell you something. I've never met him. But I use his talcum powder.

Max: "I happen to be an expert in karate, judo and jui-jitsu. Would you believe that I can break eight boards with one karate chop? No? Would you believe three boards? How about a loaf of bread?" 

Max: I have an uncanny ability to see through disguises. You know 99, what really gave you away was your walk, your voice, your mannerisms. Also, the way you said two words.
99 (in blonde wig in Casablanca): What was that Max?
Max: The way you said 'I'm 99'

Max: Why don't we speak in Swahili? 
Chief: As you wish. Mahani ganga gi. 
Max: Ganga gi? I thought it was Ganga ga. 
Chief: No, Ganga gi. 
Max: Oh, that's strange. I thought it was gi after ganga unless it came before goo. 

Don Adams Get Smart Shoe Phone Ah yes, I remember the well' - Maxwell Smart, RIP Don Adams RIP

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©2005 Gerard D'Rozario ( All rights reserved.